Top 5 Foods to Replace With Vegan Substitutes (if You Want to Save the Planet)

The Natural Resources Defense Council recently released data on foods with the biggest impact on climate change. Beef, lamb, butter, shellfish, and cheese top the list of offenders, contributing significant greenhouse gases per each kilogram of food: beef 26.5 kg, lamb 22.9 kg, butter 11.9 kg, shellfish 11.7 kg, and cheese 9.8 kg.

But fortunately, you can easily replace these foods with plant-based vegan substitutes that are good for the planet, the animals, and your health (and, arguably, better tasting, too).

The Top 5 Foods to Replace With Vegan Substitutes 


The Top 5 Foods to Replace With Vegan Substitutes


While a lot of people have already given up red meat, many still can’t resist a burger. Two key companies, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, know this. That’s why they’ve created meatless burgers that taste, cook, and look just like the “real” thing. You can find Beyond Burgers in supermarkets across the country now, as well as restaurants like TGI Friday’s. Impossible Foods’ burger is also finding spots in major metro areas — and with the company’s production ramped up, you may soon find them at your favorite drive-through.

lamb vegan substitutes

2. Lamb

For the taste and texture of lamb, you don’t need a baby sheep on your plate! Give seitan, a wheat-based protein, a try. The dense and chewy texture will be reminiscent of lamb, but without the CO2 (or guilt). Check out this recipe to make your own plant-based lamb dish.

vegan butter miyokos

3. Butter

If you can’t live a day without buttery toast, pancakes, or popcorn, don’t fret. There are plenty of buttery-like spreads made with healthful ingredients that do indeed taste like the “real” thing. Give the Miyoko’s Kitchen incredible VeganButter a try or check out Earth Balance, which is available in most major supermarkets. And, no, this is not margarine! These products aren’t filled with bad-for-you oils and stabilizers. These are buttery products made from plants.

good catch foods crab cakes

4. Shellfish

It’s a really good time to be a recovering seafood addict. Not only does shellfish contribute to our climate crisis, but the ocean’s pollution levels make eating seafood risky business. Fortunately, a slew of companies from Gardein to Sophie’s Kitchen to Good Catch Foods (launching 2018) are all making seafood from plants. That’s right. Healthy hearts of palm, chickpeas, and other good-for-you plant ingredients take on the taste and texture of seafood without any of the risks.

miyoko's vegan mozzarella cheese

5. Cheese

Ah, cheese. Of course. The ‘I’d-go-vegan-but-cheese’ card is routinely played by aspiring vegans. But here’s the thing: vegans love cheese, too. In fact, some of the best cheese being made today is totally plant-based. Whether it’s small-batch producers like Los Angeles’s Blode Kuh or Vromage, or Miyoko’s Kitchen, Treeline, Follow Your Heart, So Delicious, Kite Hill, and Daiya. They’re all making some of the best vegan cheeses so good even die-hard dairy lovers can’t tell the difference.